Posts Tagged ‘Benty Show’

Today’s guest picture shows a new style of letterbox which my friend Bruce spotted while out in Langholm.  You have to get up very early to post a letter in that part of town.

new postbox

We got up quite early today as Mrs Tootlepedal and members of her embroiderers’ group were due to spend a morning sewing and chatting at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre to encourage knowledge about and interest in their group.  I took her along in the car with her box of stuff and when I had dropped her off, I continued on up the road to Bentpath to put my photographs into the tent at the Benty Show.

It was a delightfully misty morning.

Bentpath mistBentpath mist

As I got to the field, it looked as though the swallows might be getting ready to leave.

swallows on wire

I put my photos up among some quite hot competition and then went back to Langholm where I visited the Producers’ Market to buy fish, coffee, honey and venison…..and see what Mrs Tootlepedal and her gang were up to.

embroiderers guild

They were having a good time.  The little boy on the far left of the picture stayed and did three solid hours of needle felting.

He was the son of the venison lady.  She gave me quite a shock when,  as I went to buy my supplies, she said in a firm voice, “I want to have a word with you.”  I wondered what bad thing I had done but it turned out that she had been inspired by a conversation we had about cycling at a previous market and had subsequently got on her bike in a substantial way.  She is even making local deliveries of venison on her bike these days.

As a reward for being inspirational, she kindly gave me a gift of two venison sausages curled neatly up to look a bit like cycle wheels.  I was much touched.

If anyone else would like to be inspired, I am happy to oblige.

I drove off up the hill in the car after leaving the market in the hope that some of the early mist might still be lying in the river valleys but it was already retreating up the hills…

Ewes valley

…so I went home, mowed some grass, did a bit of dead heading and watched butterflies.


On phlox, dahlia, buddleia and Michaelmas daisy. You name it, it had a butterfly on it.

I didn’t neglect the bees…

bee on poppy

…especially as I had just bought two jars of local honey.

And sometimes I could see butterflies and bees simultaneously.

butterfly and bee

The poppies were as gorgeous as ever….


…and the cornflowers and crocosmia are blending well….

cornflower and crocosmia

…but the star of the day was a newly opened lily of enormous size.


It is some sort of lily longiflorum (well named) which Mrs Tootlepedal very untypically purchased over the internet in the middle of a sleepless night.  Buying stuff on the internet in the middle of the night is not recommended but this impulse purchase looks as though it is going to turn out very well.

After lunch, I went back up to Bentpath to visit the flower show and check on my pictures.  I had managed to get a second and two thirds so I was modestly pleased as the standard of the other pictures was really good.

The weather was very kind….

Benty show

The show field doesn’t slope down quite as much as it seems in the picture!

…and the show has a very beautiful setting beside the river…..

River esk

…with the village church….

Westerkirk Church

…and the fine bridge….

Bentpath bridge

…as a backdrop.

As well as photos, food, flowers and vegetables, there are sheep in a curly horn contest….

Benty sheep

…children’s and terrier races, a wood carving demonstration and two hound trails.

I like the hounds.  They are superb athletes.

The hounds follow a scented trail over the hills and come plunging down through the bracken, leap fences….

hound trail

… and when they come to it, they leap down the banking and dive into the river…

hound trail

…swim and run across the water, leap up the bank at the far side…

hound trail

…and sprint for the finish line.

hound trail

Or at least the leader did.  The following hounds took a more cautious view of the whole watery part of the race.

hound trail

Approaching with suspicion and then getting back out again on the same bank.

After a good deal of encouragement from their owners, they did finally get across and headed for the finish line…

hound trail

…though one or two laggards were still out somewhere on the hill.

hound trail

The hounds were followed by a fell race at an altogether more sedate pace….

Benty fell race

Rounding the marker flag at the top of the hill

…though rather disappointingly, the human runners use the bridge to get back to the show ground and don’t have to fling themselves into the river.  In the first hill race that I ever ran at Newtonmore in the Highlands, we had to wade through a waist high river just to get from the field to the bottom of the hill.

I made a final visit to the show tent….

benty show

Flowers, fruit and veg, baking, walking sticks and photos filled every corner

…and then made my way home.

It had been the very picture of a village flower show.  There was sheaf tossing and a barbecue still to come for those with stamina.

I was pretty tired by the time that I got back so although the weather was still very pleasant, I did nothing more energetic than walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had been very busy clearing and preparing flower beds for next year (she is always thinking ahead) before sinking into a comfortable chair and putting my feet up.

The flying bird of the day might have been a buzzard flying above the field at Bentpath but my hand was too trembly to catch it properly so it turns out to be the first few petals of the first cardoon flower of the year.






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Today’s guest picture is another from my friend Sue’s cycle tour in the Hebrides.  It is not a sign that you see often.

hebridean signA busy day started with a before breakfast drive up to Bentpath with Sandy to put our photo entries in to the Westerkirk Horticultural Society’s annual show.  It didn’t take long for us to arrange them and we were soon in our way home.  We stopped for a moment to chat to one or two locals who were standing about but they were strangely uncommunicative.

Benty ShowAfter a bite of breakfast, I went along to the Buccleuch Centre to the monthly producers’ market there and was very pleased to find that a keen and well stocked cheese monger has taken a stall and will be coming regularly.  I bought four or five tasty looking pieces of cheese, mixing some goat and sheep with the more usual cows milk varieties.

Additional purchases of fresh fish and venison, together with some apples and a small tub of the minister’s wife’s Sundae Special home made  ice cream meant that I got home as a very satisfied shopper.

Then there was just time for a walk round the garden….


Fuschsias in their pomp

Michaelmas daisies

Michaelmas daisies trying hard


Sunflowers are beginning to go to seed.

Lilian Austin rose

Lilian Austin rose blooms at contrasting stages of development.

…followed by a cup of coffee and a wrestle with a tricky but rewarding crossword and then it was time to get things ready for our recorder group concert in the evening.  The reason for the early preparations is that we had been called for a rehearsal in the hall at a quarter past four, some three hours before the concert.

I did find time to pause and look out of the kitchen window for a moment.

blue titWhen my  preparations were completed, I just had time to nip back up to the Benty Show to see whether any of my entries had caught the judge’s eye.  It was a perfect day for a country show.

Benty Show

Benty Show

There is a section for sheep too.

I was pleased to find that a couple of photos from my entries had pleased the judge:


I pass this bull by on my bike on many days.

flower red poppy

And one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden poppies

I didn’t have time to stop for the hound trail or the terrier racing or any other of the joys of the day and was soon shooting back down the road, passing Sandy who was cycling up in the other direction.  He too had caught the judge’s eye several times, though neither of us had done well enough to win the overall cup this year.

Once home, a picnic meal was packed up and we headed south, picking up Susan on our way, to visit Newbiggin Hall near Temple Sowerby.  Google Maps, in a very precise way,  had suggested that we might need an hour and one minute for the trip and we did in fact take exactly an hour and one minute.  We were very surprised.

Newbiggin Hall was a very appropriate venue for our music for much of the hall dates from the time when the music we were playing was written (1550-1650) and some from even earlier.  I was asked not to take any pictures of the hall which was disappointing.

We had a practice and enjoyed tea on the lawn before eating our packed meal and getting changed into our tootling outfits.  Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to visit a National Trust garden nearby while we were puffing away. 

The concert had been organised as a chance for a local and very talented five member early music vocal consort to run through some material which they are taking on a short tour of Germany and we were there to provide some dance music in contrast to their songs.

It took place in the big hall of the house and with an audience if about twenty five filling the heavily panelled room, the atmosphere felt just right for the occasion.  I was very pleased that some of my favourite composers (Byrd, Dowland, Morley and Purcell) figured in the singers’ programme. We played well, the singers sang very well and the audience seemed pleased so everyone was happy.  It took us and hour and two minutes to get back home (it was dark by then).

Once again, I have a double dose of mixed gender flying birds of the day to show how cheerful I am.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch




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Today’s picture shows Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire recently visited by my younger brother and older sister, two indefatigable tourists.

kelmarsh hall

In spite of a forecast of heavy rain and winds, the day of the Benty show offered some welcome and unexpected early sunshine when Sandy and I took our pictures up before breakfast. As Mrs Tootlepedal was taking a rather frail B&B visitor to the bus with his luggage, Sandy took me up in his car.  The field was quiet and we soon had our pictures up in the the big tent on the right.  There were many more entries by the time if the judging.

Benty Show field AM

Before we left,  I took a picture of the church and the hill beside it which would see various races later in the day.


After breakfast, I went along to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre and stocked up on fish, venison and cheese.  Then it was a case of sitting down and waiting until the show opened and we could go up again.  The skies were getting greyer by the minute so I leapt out of my chair for long enough to mow the front lawn before the rain started.  Of course once I had done this, the skies brightened up a bit and the rain held off.  This didn’t seem to make the birds any better tempered.

bad tempered birds

Lunchtime came without any rain and after consultation with Sandy, we drove separately up to the show field so that Mrs Tootlepedal could come back in plenty of time in our car to be there for some B&B guests who were due to arrive at some unspecified time and Icould get a lift back with the ever obliging Sandy.

The show was well supported and we were in quite a crowd as we went into the tent to see how our pictures had fared.  I was happy to find that I had got two firsts and two seconds and this was enough to get me the cup for most points in the section.  My joy was slightly modified by finding that the points winner from last year hadn’t entered this year but  cup is a cup.

There were other interesting things to look at in the tent.  Mrs Tootlepedal was captivated by an enormous cabbage….

in the tent

…and the root vegetables were well up to standard too.

There is always plenty to see at a country show.  At the Benty, the sheep are a feature.

sheep pens Benty Show 2013

Two handsome fellows

 There is always something going on.

Benty show 2013

Here an ex-cornet is judging dogs in front of an interested audience.

Mrs Tootlepedal left at this point and Sandy and i walked across the bridge over the river….


The threatening clouds were there all day but it only rained infrequently

…to take some pictures of a couple of hound trails.

These are races for hounds following a laid trail over a course of about ten miles.  They cover this distance over very rough ground in the amazing (to me) time of 30 minutes.  If the river conditions permit, the dogs cross the river and finish the race in the show field but the river was too high for that today. The finish was at the bottom of a hill on the far bank.  We climbed a short way up the hill.

While we were waiting, we looked back to the field on the opposite side of the Esk.

Benty Show 2013

A good turnout.

The dogs were soon in evidence.

Hound trail 2013

As they reach the end of the course, tired as they must be, the poor dogs have to leap several fences and walls.

hound trail 2013

These are very fit animals indeed.

After the race was over,   I passed the time in a break in the weather by taking yet another picture of the Westerkirk church, one of my favourite subjects.

Westerkirk church

Soon afterwards,  it started to rain and Sandy and I left the hill and sheltered near some trees with the most number of berries that I have ever seen.


As the time for the second race drew near, we left our shelter, exchanged a few words with a fellow camera club member who was more interested in the dogs than in pictures today…

Camera man

He has shown some wonderful hound pictures at the camera club.

…and walked back up the hill where we sheltered under another tree from the ever increasing rain.

Soon the excited yelping of the hounds got us ready for the second race.

The leaders hound trail 2013

hound trail 2013

hound trail 2013

You cannot fail to be impressed by these canine athletes’ enthusiasm for the task.

As soon as the hound trail was over, human athletes started their own fell race.

fell race

I used to do this sort of things forty years ago but it makes my knees hurt just watching them these days.  We fell into conversation with a hound owner who was hoping that we had taken a picture of her winning dog (we think that we have) and missed the winner of the fell race but we did catch the second runner coming home.

fell runner

Looking pretty perky for a lad who has just run up and down the hill in the background in under twenty minutes.

The rain had stopped by now and we went back to the field to watch some terrier racing.  This is always an exciting event as the contestants are extremely unreliable.  The following sequence shows the final race of the day.

terrier racing Benty 2013

It was declared a tie.

I managed to take yet another picture of my favourite church from a different angle in a sunny moment.

church Westerkirk

Soon it was time to collect my prize and I was fortunate to have to hand the best photographer on the field to record this occasion.

Getting the cup

We were posing for the local paper’s photographer.

As soon as my presentation was over, it started to rain very hard but it only last for ten minutes or so.  Having collected up our pictures (Sandy was among the prizes too), Sandy drove us home and we enjoyed a well earned cup of tea and a biscuit or three.

After Sandy left, I glanced out of the window and was delighted to see a new and elegant visitor to the feeder.  The nuthatch had obviously heard my complaint yesterday about lack of variety at the feeder.


It paid several visits to the feeders and it would be very good if it liked what it saw enough to visit us again tomorrow.

All in all, especially considering the very reasonable weather after such a dire forecast, it was a most enjoyable day and my thanks go to Sandy for being good enough to chauffeur me about.

The inevitable chaffinch appears as flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

I should perhaps add for clarity that the Benty Show takes place in the village of Bentpath in the parish of Westerkirk.

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Today’s picture shows an Icelandic poppy in the garden.  They win the prize for flowering longest.


Warning for those with not a lot of time to waste: This may not be the post for you as it has far too many pictures in it.

The reason for the plethora of photography  is the Benty Show.  This horticultural show takes place in the village of Bentpath in the parish of Westerkirk, six miles north of Langholm.  It has a photographic section and both Sandy and I had entered pictures so after breakfast, I picked him up and we went up the road to put our photos into the tent.

The Benty tent

As befits a small village, it is a modest show and this tent holds all the entries except for…..

The sheep

…the sheep. Unusually for a flower show, there are a number of locally bred sheep classes for the local sheep farmers.  The animals are entered as they come and no primping is permitted.  They still look handsome enough though.


As we left the field, Sandy bumped into a couple of old friends.

Sandy & co

Scarecrows are very popular at local shows these days. You can drive through whole villages of them in places.

We retired to Wauchope Cottage for a coffee and Sandy duly admired the new kitchen, although there is still work to be done.

When he left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to get some bits and bobs and size up potential tiles for the kitchen.  I stared out of the window.

 busy feeder

The feeder was as busy as ever with birds queueing up all day.

insistent siskin

An insistent siskin

There was a good selection of the tit family in attendance.  Here we see a coal tit, a great tit and a kamikaze blue tit.

coal, great and blue tit

The well drawn robin was back.


While Mrs Tootlepedal was in Carlisle, I had gone to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre and bought a couple of treats for lunch among other things.  Not everyone would think that a macaroni cheese pie is a delicacy but Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed it a lot.

After lunch and some more work on the kitchen, we headed back up to the Benty and were just in time to see the runners in the hill race set off.

early leaders

The early leaders at the bottom of the hill.

A steep climb

It’s a steep climb

The summit

The leader turns at the summit flag

the plunge downhill

The plunge downhill


The winner

The eventual winner at the bottom of the hill

He is being encouraged by his father, a former winner of the race, who is currently suffering from an injured shoulder caused by a cycling accident.

A hound trail was being run at the same time as the hill race and shortly after the first runners came down the hill, a flood of hounds followed them down.


and caught up some of the slower runners.

hounds and runners

But the hounds arrived safely….

winning hound

The winning hound gets his reward.

The runners had to go a bit further…


…passing some resting hounds on their way.


We crossed back over the Esk…

The Esk at Bentpath

Although it had been very cloudy at Langholm, the weather was beautiful at the Benty.

…and went to the tent to see how our photos had done.  Sandy had won a first in the landscapes and I had got a first in the flower pictures so we were both pleased.  Except for the views, the photos are limited to 7 by 5 inches and are displayed without mounts,  crammed together on stands so although there were a lot of fine pictures in the show, it didn’t make for such a good display as at Canonbie where the photos were larger and had more space.

We went outside to find more dogs in action in the terrier racing.

terrier racing

Ready, steady, go

The overall prize for most points in the photo section was won by Langholm postman, Stan, a very keen photographer.  Here we see him on the left being photographed in turn for the local paper and on the the right, the hill race runner walking away with his prize.

Stan and Matthew

Sandy, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a cup of tea and a cake in the hall and then headed for home.  I had one last look back at the field as we left.  The hill in the background was the scene of the hound trail and the hill race.

The Benty Show field

I am sure that if you look at Sandy’s blog, you will find another view of the day there.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out and water the hanging baskets in the High Street.  In spite of all the rain, some of them were very dry indeed and needed a drink.

On her return, she had a quick snack and we headed off again.  This time we were going to Hadrian’s Wall to see an art event which our daughter Annie had pointed out to us.  It had grand themes of communication and continuity and was part of the London 2012 celebrations.  It was called Connecting Light and was a large scale installation along the wall.  We first arrived at a visible part of it at Birdoswald Fort.

Connecting Light at Birdoswald

You can just make out the Roman Wall itself in the foreground.

The installation consisted of lanterns on poles, although they were described as light filled balloons.  They changed colour rather slowly according to the message that they were sending along the line but as we had no means of decoding this, they just took the form of large meaninglessly changing globes.  They looked very nice in the gloaming but as it was raining by this time, we didn’t stay long.

the light filled balloons

We drove along very narrow, very crowded roads to Wall Crags, where the next viewing point was.  The car park was packed and the event had certainly brought the crowds out on a rainy evening. Owing to leaving home in a bit of a rush, we hadn’t really considered that a torch might be a good thing in the dark and after a walk along a very gloomy road and a glimpse of more balloons across a field, we decided to head for home.  As we went, we caught sight of more of the installation near Carlisle but on the whole we felt that it had all been a bit tamer than the magnificent ribbon of light that we had imagined we would see.  Still, we were glad to have seen it at all.

By the time we got home, I felt that I had had a busy day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.



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